The Sufi Hadhrah in the Shafi'i Madzhab

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from “What is the Ruling Regarding the Sufi Hadhrah in the Shafi’i Madzhab?” by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed.  It must be noted that the hadhrah is permissible in all the madzahib.  There may be elements in a ruling where there is khilaf, such as the use of musical instruments mentioned below. These elements may be the general opinion within a madzhab or the opinion of certain scholars within a madzhab.

The hadhrah is a form of group dzikr where the attendees most often stand in a circle.  Depending on the particular Sufi order, it can contain elements such as singing, dancing, and music.  The ruling on an issue derives from its conceptualisation is a maxim of classical logic.  It means that before one can pass judgment on an issue, one has to properly understand it.  Whatever has been decisively proven as impermissible is not permitted, and whatever has been decisively proven as permissible is permitted.

If the hadhrah contains something impermissible, like the free-mixing of marriageable men and women in way that is conducive to temptation or unrestrained looking at the unlawful, then attending it is forbidden.  Some Shafi’i scholars are of the opinion that if the hadhrah includes the playing of musical instruments like the kubah, a drum that is wide at each end and narrow in the middle; the mizmar, a wood wind instrument similar to the flute; ‘awd, lute; and similar musical instruments, then attending it is forbidden.  As for the duff, a shallow drum, like a tambourine but without the metal jingles; and drum that is wide at both ends and the middle; they are permissible for men and women, during weddings and at other times.  If the hadhrah is free from forbidden elements and combines the remembrance of Allah (s.w.t.), praising Him and lauding the Prophet (s.a.w.), then all of this is fundamentally recommended in shari’ah according to the consensus of Muslims, as is clear.  If movement is added to this, as some Sufis do, there is no harm in it, because dancing is permissible for men and women in our school as long it does not contain effeminate or licentious movements.  Otherwise, it is forbidden.

Imam ibn Hajr al-Haytsami (r.a.), the last muharrir imam of the Shafi’i madzhab, one who authoritatively identifies the strong and weak positions, was asked about Sufis dancing during their ecstasy and he upheld their practice.  In part, he said, “It is permissible to stand and dance during gatherings of remembrance and audition according to a group of great scholars, among them being Shaykh al-Islam ibn ‘Abd as-Salam.”  This is found in Fatawa al-Haditsiyyah.

Imam Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuthi (q.s.), the ahadits master, was asked about the Sufi dance: is it permissible to repudiate those who do it?  He replied that it was not permissible to repudiate them and that the one who repudiates is mistaken.  He narrated this from a group of scholars as recorded in al-Hawi li al-Fatawi.

The upshot is that if one wishes to attend a hadhrah while observing the above-mentioned rules, it is not permissible to repudiate him because, at worst, this matter is differed upon.  It is not permissible to repudiate one who does an act that is differed upon, as Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.) wrote in his Ihya’, Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) in Sharh Swahih Muslim, Imam al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd as-Salam (r.a.) in Shajarah al-Ahwal wa al-Ma’arif and others pointed out.


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